Radke, voice of Wolf Pack, is moving on
May 26, 2017
Sports fodder for a Friday morning . . .
The Nevada Wolf Pack needs a new voice. Ryan Radtke, who has broadcast Wolf Pack football and men's basketball games since the fall of 2008, announced this week that he is leaving to broadcast nationally for the Westwood One radio network. While Radtke's style didn't supply us with any cute and witty catch phrases, Wolf Pack fans will always remember him as the soundtrack for many unforgettable moments. In football, Radtke brought us the landmark 2010 season and the wins over California and Boise State as well as seven wins in nine years over UNLV and bowl wins in 2010 and 2015. Radtke also described the basketball Western Athletic Conference regular season champs in 2011-12 and the Mountain West champions this past year. He was also there for the College Basketball Invitational crown in 2016 and the NCAA tournament game this past March. He brought us the amazing feats of Colin Kaepernick, Deonte Burton and Cam Oliver. Radtke's call of the final minute of regulation and in overtime of the Pack's miraculous basketball comeback win at New Mexico this past season and the highlights of the 2010 football win over Boise State should also be playing non-stop at Legacy Hall. Our radios will miss him.
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Radtke, above all else, was extremely professional and well prepared and gave Wolf Pack sports a national feel. His broadcasts were meticulous, thorough, informative and reliable, sort of an audio version of the Wolf Pack press release. Dan Gustin, who broadcast Pack games for three decades before Radtke, was the guy next door, a Wolf Pack fan who seemed to invite you into his living room with each broadcast as he watched the game. But it was a simpler time. Gustin was the broadcaster when Pack sports was looked upon as merely the biggest high school in the area. There was a hometown feel to it, a familiarity. Radtke came to us with the Pack's slick partnership with Learfield Sports and seemingly fit in perfectly with the Pack's new corporate, business-like approach to sports marketing. Pack sports was no longer a big high school with a distinct Reno hometown feel to it. It became the biggest shopping mall in the area with a national franchise feel to it. It's called progress.
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Chris Ault now needs to join the Wolf Pack football broadcasting team. Ault's knowledge and love for Wolf Pack football are unquestioned and he would immediately become the best color analyst in the Mountain West. Ault has already given his stamp of approval on new football coach Jay Norvell and has made it very clear that he would like to be around the program once again. What better place than the announcer's booth? Ault is one of the most brilliant football minds the sport has ever produced. There is nothing on a football field that he has never seen before or couldn't explain. He'd give Pack broadcasts a depth and honesty that fans would crave. He'd also return some of that old Reno hometown feel to Pack sports that has been missing in recent years.
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The NFL is now going to allow its players to once again celebrate in the end zone after touchdowns. The No Fun League is going to have some fun again. Players can now celebrate as a group in the end zone (instead of just in strip clubs, bars and yachts) and use the football as a prop. TV probably just wanted something to keep viewers from getting off the couch and going to the refrigerator for at least another minute or so. Don't be surprise if the end zone celebrations suddenly get sponsors. The Budweiser Odell Beckham Jr. Party Zone, for example. Also, teams employ cheerleader coaches and choreographers. How long will it be before some team hires Terrell Owens or Chad Ochocinco Johnson as an end zone celebration coordinator?
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Never let it be said that former Wolf Pack coach Brian Polian left the cupboard bare for new coach Jay Norvell. Athlon magazine put 10 Pack players on its pre-season All-Mountain West team this week. Running back James Butler, offensive linemen Austin Corbett and defensive lineman Malik Reed, three of Polian's best recruits during his rocky four-year tenure, were all named to the Athlon First Team. San Diego State (14), Wyoming (12), Colorado State (12) and Boise State (11) have more players on the four Athlon teams combined but 10 is very respectable for a team that finished 5-7 a year ago. Athlon, by the way, picked just eight UNLV players. That should be worth at least one cannon blast from the blue Fremont Cannon sometime this spring, don't you think?
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The Athlon teams are supposed to reflect what the magazine believes will be the best players in the conference in 2017. Wolf Pack quarterback David Cornwell, though, was not named by Athlon despite the fact that he is going to put up video game numbers in the Pack's new Air Raid, pass-happy offense. A 25-completion, 300-yard, three-touchdown game might be a typical game for Cornwell. It will be Chris Vargas, 1993 version all over again if all goes as planned for the Pack this year. Boise's Brett Rypien, Wyoming's Josh Allen, Colorado State's Nick Stevens and Hawaii's Dru Brown were the four Mountain West quarterbacks named. They are all four solid choices — Allen is already being touted as a first-round pick in the 2018 NFL draft — but don't be surprised if Cornwell outplays them all.
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If LeBron James wins another NBA championship next month, it might be time to call him the greatest NBA player in history. He is already in the two-player conversation with Michael Jordan. Jordan has more titles (six to James' three) and never lost in the NBA Finals (James has lost four times). Jordan might have won eight championships in a row if he didn't go play baseball between his two Three-peats. But this will be James' eighth Finals and seventh in a row. There is nothing he can't do on the court. You could argue that James is already a better all-around player than Jordan and maybe the greatest all-around player in the history of the sport. James could play any position on the floor. Jordan, though, was the game's greatest competitor. The Michael vs. LeBron debate, though, obviously didn't exist in Michael's day. If it did, Jordan probably wouldn't have sacrificed a couple years in the prime of his career to go play baseball. James will likely never retire until he wins more titles than Jordan just so he can silence the critics.